In a Tight Place

You know, don’t you, that God never plans “bad” things for his children?

That’s what they say. Those folks on TBN, the “name it and claim it,” the “only good” believers.

Well, what do they know? It certainly isn’t what Scripture tells us about God. Consider the Jews as they leave Egypt. They certainly faced what appeared to be a very “bad” plan, which came directly from God.

Read carefully the first paragraph of Exodus 14, and you’ll find these words, ” ‘Tell the people to march toward . . . between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore. . .  ‘ ” (God speaking to Moses) and later God says, ” ‘I have planned this so that I will receive great glory at the expense of Pharaoh and his army. . . So the Israelites camped there as they were told.”

(verse 4)

Did you catch it?

So far, the Jews have escaped captivity in Egypt. After a devastating series of plagues, Pharaoh has finally agreed to let them leave. They believe they are headed for their own land, a place of provision and safety. They think the worst is over. Together, they breathe a sigh of relief and follow Moses out into the wilderness. Safe at last.

Wrong again.

Think about it from the Israelite perspective.  As chapter 14 opens, they don’t know how the story will end. From their point of view, as the sun set that night, they had their backs to the sea. The Egyptian army was approaching from behind. They were trapped. Caught. Sitting ducks. The only protection they knew came in the form of a column of fire between them and the enemy. Not much protection, if you ask me.

They must have known; the army would crush them all.

They must have felt fear. Abject terror. They must have wondered why God would lead them to this horrible end? Why save them so wonderfully only to let the Egyptians annihilate them? What kind of God would allow this to happen?

Chew on that. Feel it with them. Live those few hours with them, as they wait for what seemed an impossible deliverance.

“I have planned this so that I will receive great glory.”

A glorious God planned it. He led them into a tough place. A no-win scenario. A life threatening dead end. HE DID IT, ON PURPOSE. With purpose. With deliberation.

It wasn’t an accident. No act of the devil. No willful disobedience on their part. In fact, their very obedience to God’s plan made them MORE vulnerable, not less. By obeying God, they moved deeper into the dead end.

In this case, God’s received glory when the Egyptians followed the Israelites into the dry sea bed. God caused their chariots to stick in the mud, and then closed the sea over them. The entire army (verse  9) including Pharaoh himself was destroyed in the process.

But in that dark night, with no happy ending in sight, the Jews must have wondered. “Why are we here? What is God doing?”

The next time someone tells you that following God is all roses and safety, think of this story. Yes, it had a happy ending. But before the “end,” were long moments of fear. Moments of bewildering mistrust. Moments that death seemed the only option.

Remember that. Following God is about listening and obeying. We do not know God’s plan by its comfort, or its safety, or its success.

We know God’s plan by following him into the dark, scary places, and watching to see him act. Then, like the Israelites, we give him the glory that only HE deserves.

What dark places have you seen lately?

Bette

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